The Lok Sabha on 14.09.2020 Monday passed The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill which aims the availability of high-quality medical professionals both for homoeopathic treatment as well as in India.
The National Commission for Homoeopathy, Bill, 2019, aims to replace the Central Council for Homoeopathy, which is the current regulatory body for homoeopathy. It proposes a teacher’s eligibility test to assess the standard of teachers before appointment and promotions.
The National Commission will have three autonomous boards entrusted with conducting overall education of homoeopathy by the homoeopathy education board. The board of assessment and rating will grant permission to educational institutions, while the board of ethics and registration of homoeopathy practitioners will maintain the national register and address ethical issues.
The bills were passed in Rajya Sabha in January 2019, to regulate alternative systems of medicine on the lines of the National Medical Commission Bill, and create a new regulatory body for homoeopathy in the country.
Key features of the Bill include:
- Constitution of the National Commission for Homoeopathy: The Bill sets up the National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH). The NCH will consist of 20 members, appointed by the central government. A Search Committee will recommend names to the central government for the post of Chairperson, part time members, and presidents of the three autonomous boards set up under the NCH. These posts will have a maximum term of four years. The Search Committee will consist of six members including the Cabinet Secretary and three experts nominated by the central government (of which two will have experience in the homoeopathic field).
- Members of the NCH will include: (i) the Chairperson, (ii) the President of the Homoeopathy Education Board, (iii) the President of the Medical Assessment and Rating Board for Homoeopathy, (iv) the Director General, National Institute of Homoeopathy, (v) Advisor or Joint Secretary in-charge of Homoeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH, and (vi) four members (part-time) to be elected by the registered homoeopathic medical practitioners from amongst themselves from the prescribed regional constituencies under the Bill.
- Within three years of the passage of the Bill, state governments will establish State Medical Councils for Homoeopathy at the state level
- Functions of the National Commission for Homoeopathy: Functions of the NCH include: (i) framing policies for regulating medical institutions and homoeopathic medical professionals, (ii) assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure, (iii) ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils of Homoeopathy of the regulations made under the Bill, and (iv) ensuring coordination among the autonomous boards set up under the Bill.
- Autonomous boards: The Bill sets up certain autonomous boards under the supervision of the NCH. These boards are: (i) the Homoeopathy Education Board: It will be responsible for formulating standards, curriculum, guidelines for setting up of medical institutions, and granting recognition to medical qualifications at the undergraduate and post graduate levels respectively, (ii) the Medical Assessment and Rating Board for Homoeopathy: It determine the process of rating and assessment of medical institutions and have the power to levy monetary penalties on institutions which fail to maintain the minimum standards It will also grant permission for establishing a new medical institution, and (iii) the Board of Ethics and Medical Registration for Homoeopathy: It will maintain a National Register of all licensed homoeopathic medical practitioners, and regulate their professional conduct. Only those medical practitioners included in the Register will be allowed to practice homoeopathic medicine.
- Advisory Council for Homoeopathy: Under the Bill, the central government will constitute an Advisory Council for Homoeopathy. The Council will be the primary platform through which the states/union territories can put forth their views and concerns before the NCH. Further, the Council will advise the NCH on measures to determine and maintain minimum standards of medical education.
- Entrance examinations: There will be a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to under-graduate homoeopathy education in all medical institutions regulated by the Bill. The NCH will specify the manner of conducting common counselling for admission in all such medical institutions. The Bill proposes a common final year National Exit Test for the students graduating from medical institutions to obtain the license for practice. Further, there will be a uniform Post-Graduate National Entrance Test which will serve as the basis for admission into post-graduate courses at medical institutions.
- The Bill also proposes a National Teachers’ Eligibility Test for postgraduates of homoeopathy who wish to take up teaching homoeopathy as a profession.
- Appeal on matters related to professional and ethical misconduct: State Medical Councils will receive complaints relating to professional or ethical misconduct against a registered homoeopathic medical practitioner. If the medical practitioner is aggrieved of a decision of the State Medical Council, he may appeal to the Board of Ethics and Medical Registration for Homoeopathy. The State Medical Councils and the Board of Ethics and Medical Registration for Homoeopathy have the power to take disciplinary action against the medical practitioner including imposing a monetary penalty. If the medical practitioner is aggrieved of the decision of the Board, he can approach the NCH to appeal against the decision. Appeal of the decision of the NCH lies with the central government.